Author Topic: Elements of Urbanism: Philadelphia  (Read 5931 times)


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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Philadelphia
« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2010, 09:01:01 AM »
Tufsu, my understanding is the IRS/GSA is the tenant but that Penn and its partners are the master developers and maybe the ongoing landlord.

From your article:
The renovation of the former Post Office building at 30th and Market streets, along with the construction of a parking garage adjacent to the building, aims to connect Penn and Center City Philadelphia.

The project is a partnership between Penn Facilities and Real Estate Services and Brandywine Realty Trust.
Hey!  Whatever happened to just plain ol' COMMON SENSE!!


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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Philadelphia
« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2010, 10:55:49 AM »
The four kids and I went to both DC and Philly over spring break this year to enjoy some urban ambience. We all agreed that Philly was our favorite out of the two! One of the things I noticed which would be really cool in Jacksonville is the planned graffiti on many of the buildings which attracts artists to the use their talents in new ways, as well as celebrating unique characteristics of the buildings and aspects of Philly itself. Of course I doubt that the city council would ever allow 'planned graffiti', but one can only dream!

I know that Philly itself is NOT a friendly city in many ways and has a number of problems, but at the same time there are so many things going for it that it's hard to be dissuaded from visiting. NY'ers are flocking to Philly in droves because the cost of living in NYC has skyrocketed so much, and many of them are moving to Center City and adding to the vitality of the core. I see this as a huge plus.

We stayed next to the convention center directly across from City Hall and loved the location! Our oldest daughter who is a graduating senior cannot wait to return to their art museums. As for myself, this year was my fourth trip there over the years and do see a big improvement (except for the Gallery Mall, that seems to have gone downhill). What I also love is how they don't raze their old structures any longer and use them!!


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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Philadelphia
« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2010, 04:03:17 PM »
Phillie is my hometown and I return to visit every summer. I love the old city section, and it's clear that Philadelphia 'gets it' and makes absolutely every effort to restore and maintain it's historical structures. Most of old city is filled with such structures, where the historical values are of great importance and yet they are given a rebirth by having them serve as businesses of all kinds, apartments, stores, you name it...and they're all in these old beauties. Something that this city needs to learn!


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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Philadelphia
« Reply #18 on: June 05, 2010, 11:54:50 AM »
I attended a convention in Philadelphia.  Two other delgates and I took the Amtrak to 30th Street Station and spent $15 to take a taxi to our hotel in Center City.  Our week was spent walking around the area to enjoy the sites, retail and dining.  I took the SEPTA to Manayunk to visit with two friends who moved up there from Gainesville, Florida.  I was impressed by the rich history, diverse architecture and great food.  I made a point to have some scrapple before I left town.  I got some scrapple from the Reading Terminal Market.  This is a great city!
John Louis Meeks, Jr.


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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Philadelphia
« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2010, 01:08:23 AM »
By chance, I found this today on CNN's web site:

Six Philly gems beyond the Liberty Bell
By Zach Pontz, Special to CNN
June 3, 2010 10:00 a.m. EDT

(CNN) -- Philadelphia is one of the few American cities whose history is a fully integrated part of the urban landscape. Cars still roll along the city's cobblestone streets, people live in homes dating back to the 18th century and bars Ben Franklin frequented are popular today.

Philadelphians don't neglect their history, and rarely do they cordon it off.

But apart from the tourist destinations that are synonymous with the place, such as the Liberty Bell, the art museum steps (you know, from "Rocky" fame) or Pat's and Geno's famous Philly cheesesteak shops, there is an often overlooked aspect of Philadelphia: its cultural depth.

So for the curious admirer, here's a list of some other interesting Philly destinations:

Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania

There are few places so close to urban centers -- the Arboretum lies on the northwest, and most rural, edge of Philadelphia -- that allow you to experience such natural diversity. More than 2,500 types of plants strew the grounds.

You can be strolling through an English rose garden and the next moment find yourself standing in front of world-renowned artist Patrick Dougherty's "Summer Palace," an art installation created by weaving sticks and saplings together.

In the summer, a miniature garden railway is erected, an always-popular amusement for children who get to experience the delights of a massive train set. And from summer concerts to a rotation of special exhibits, there's always something new taking place.

Northern Liberties

This once-floundering neighborhood has seen a rebirth in recent years. Frequently overlooked by outsiders because of its dubious past, it lies just a stone's throw away from the more friendly Old City neighborhood that houses the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

Home to some of the city's hippest restaurants, bars and clubs, Northern Liberties is fast becoming a top destination for artists and other hipster types.

The Piazza at Shmidt's is a new favorite, a Philly take on the famous Italian communal ground, but don't overlook some of the older mainstays such as Ortlieb's Jazzhaus.

Walk a Crooked Mile Books

Perhaps it's the fortress of books that surrounds the entryway and patio, or the scattered $2 literature that welcomes you as you enter, but there's something unparalleled about this used bookstore in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia. Just north of the main commercial strip of the neighborhood, proprietor Greg Williams converted a portion of this 1882 train station from the apartment building it had become into a bookstore 15 years ago.

"We think of ourselves as a cultural reservoir. We have books even the library wouldn't have," says Williams.

I came across early 20th-century originals and reprints among the dusty shelves and rickety wooden floors. And alas, if for some reason you don't find anything that you fancy, you can be comforted by the complementary coffee they serve.


The layers of delightfully flavorful deli meat would be cause enough for celebration if this hoagie (Philadelphia term for the sub sandwich) wasn't all about the roll. With a crusty exterior that slowly gives way to a soft center, it comes plain or with sesame seeds.

It's certainly a far cry from that mushy bread found at your local sandwich chain store. In a city where the hoagie is part religion, this is widely considered among the best. Sitting at the top of the Italian Market, Sarcone's is a perfect stop after a stroll through one of the city's famous landmarks.

Philadelphia Mural Arts program

There are more than 2,800 public art murals in the city of Philadelphia. Peppered throughout the city and painted by burgeoning and established artists, you can take tours by trolley, bus, bike and foot.

Ryan Derfler, the tour manager of the program, suggests the trolley as an introduction.

"It allows you to really get into the neighborhoods. You're not stuck in Center City. Philadelphia is a very neighborhood-centric city. [The trolley ride] allows you to see enough art that you see how the murals really reflect each neighborhood and the city."

Rodin Museum

Auguste Rodin is considered one of the greatest sculptors to have ever lived. I mean, have you seen "The Thinker"? This gem of a museum, which sits in the shadow of the Philadelphia Art Museum, opened in 1929 and is one of the legacies of movie theater magnate Jules Mastbaum, whom in the early 20th century had accumulated the largest Rodin collection outside of Paris.

Luckily, he decided to share it with his fellow Philadelphians. And for just a $5 donation, it's one of the better cultural deals in town.

I might add another attraction to this list, home to some of the best ancient history collections anywhere:

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology [Frommer's Highly Recommended]

The 118-year-old museum got started early and well, and is endowed with Benin bronzes, ancient cuneiform texts, Mesopotamian masterpieces, pre-Columbian gold, and artifacts of every continent, mostly brought back from the more than 350 expeditions it has sponsored over the years. The taller structures that surround this museum give its Romanesque brickwork and gardens a secluded feel. The museum has had spectacular special exhibitions, including forays into ancient Iran, Roman glass, ancient Egypt, and works from ancient Canaan and Israel.

Exhibits are intelligently explained. The basement Egyptian galleries, including colossal architectural remains from Memphis and The Egyptian Mummy: Secrets and Science, are family favorites. Probably the most famous excavation display, located on the third floor, is a spectacular Sumerian trove of jewelry and household objects from the royal tombs of the ancient city of Ur. Adjoining this, huge cloisonné lions from Peking's (now Beijing's) Imperial Palace guard Chinese court treasures and tomb figures. The Ancient Greek Gallery in the classical-world collection, renovated in 1994, has 400 superb objects such as red-figure pottery -- a flower of Greek art -- and an unusual lead sarcophagus from Tyre that looks like a miniature house. Other galleries display Native American and Polynesian art and a small but excellent African collection of bronze plaques and statues. There's a very active schedule of events throughout the year.

Read more:
Hey!  Whatever happened to just plain ol' COMMON SENSE!!


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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Philadelphia
« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2010, 12:47:50 AM »
I visited DC this past weekend and while there, took an excursion to Philly for about 24 hours; it was my first visit since '94 (around the time the new convention center opened) and it was a really great experience. I love Philly's authentic urban fabric and could see myself living there. Penn's Landing was nice, and I like the way their major venues are clustered together a few miles outside of DT. It would have been great to see some shots of Market Street, but for the most part, I think the essence of Philly has been captured here.


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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Philadelphia
« Reply #21 on: June 29, 2010, 12:54:01 PM »
I lived in Philly for a year (2003-04) and it is definitely my favorite American city.  There is one thing in the article I'd like to correct.  It implies that Center City was a troubled place that has been resurrected.  In fact, even in the 1980s and 1990s, Center City was more lively than most Sun Belt downtowns by a factor of roughly infinity.

What's changed isn't so much the downtown core as spreading gentrification: in 1990, if you were priced out of Center City, you would typically move to the suburbs because everything more than, say, five or ten blocks from City Hall was really scary (and even a few places that were within a few blocks on the north side of downtown).  By contrast, today, the "downtown-adjacent" neighborhoods are beginning to recover. 

To put it another way, Philadelphia is Jacksonville inside out: Jacksonville has a weak core and good neighborhoods a mile or two away (San Marco and Riverside), Philadelphia has a historically strong core, but in the late 20th century most of the neighborhoods between downtown and the city limits went into meltdown. 

Philadelphia's challenge is to revitalize those downtown-adjacent neighborhoods; its happening with the neighborhoods closest to downtown, but the neighborhoods that are, say, 2-10 miles out are still in trouble.


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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Philadelphia
« Reply #22 on: July 24, 2014, 07:51:24 AM »
I'm heading to DC today. That tax abatement program back in 2000 really paid off for Philly and Center City.  When I get back to Jax, I'll dig up my photographs from earlier visits to compare.  Here are a few from the last three days....

"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali